Omar Imam

Imam

This project, “Live, Love, Refugee,” examines the mental state of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, asking how relations and dreams are affected by conflict and displacement. It is a visual evocation of the pain and desire of Syrians who struggle to survive in their new land.

 

The people I met are in the worst possible conditions, but they have the desire to continue being human.

 

I chose to make photographs that employ symbolism and surrealism in an attempt to approach the psychological situation of my subjects. I wanted to disrupt the audience’s expectations of images of refugees and to present them with questions rather than answers.

 

For me this is the best way to express this horrible experience. It gives viewers the ability to imagine horrific and over-photographed (but under-seen) cases like the Syrian situation, where every related story is a copy of a copy of a copy. I like to surprise the audience without being aggressive, avoiding the low hanging fruit of political reaction and focus instead on a deeper human perspective. 

In 2012, Syrian activist turned photographer Omar Imam (b. 1979, Damascus) was kidnapped and tortured by a militia and only let go when a friend intervened. Soon after, Imam left Damascus with his parents and wife, settling in Beirut where he and his wife started a family. In 2016, he moved to Amsterdam, where he currently resides. His family recently received paperwork that will finally allow them to join him.

 

Live, Love, Refugee is Imam’s photographic response to the chaos erupting in his homeland. In refugee camps across Lebanon, Imam collaborated with Syrians to create photographs that talked about their reality, rather than presenting them as a simple statistic. As a refugee himself, Imam understands the loss and chaos of being displaced from ones home. But dreams cannot be eradicated -- dreams of escape, dreams of love, and dreams of terror. These dreams are what Imam set out to capture. The resulting images peel back the façade of flight, to reveal the spirit of those who persevere, despite losing everything that was familiar. These composed photographs challenge our perception of victimization, offering access into the heart and soul of humanity.

 

Omar Imam is an Amsterdam-based, Syrian photographer and filmmaker. In his photographic works, Imam uses irony and a conceptual approach to respond to the violent situation in Syria, often publishing his work under a pseudonym. After leaving Damascus in late 2012, he began making fictional short films that often focus on the Syrian refugee experience. Individually and with NGOs, he has produced films, photographic projects, and workshops for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In April 2017 he received the Tim Hetherington Visionary Award. 

All images are available as 12 x 16", 18 x 24" and 35 x 47" pigments prints made in editions of 8 + 2 APs, 6 + 2 APs and 4 + 2 APs, respectively. Pieces range in price from $1200 to $2800, depending on size and availability. A set of Live, Love, Refugee 12 x 16" pigment prints is available for $11,000.


Please call: (312) 266-2350 for prices of specific pieces.
Prices are print only unless otherwise indicated.

Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [there was only grass]
Video Link
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [found myself in narrow places]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [scarecrow]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [my wife is blind]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [car technician not a doctor]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [privacy in Syria]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [testicles are in danger]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [I felt safer when I listen to music]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [I'm afraid of the blank]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [I wish to become a dragon]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [we are making one team]